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The Longest Crawl Paperback – 3 Jul 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (3 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747577145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747577140
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 23.3 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,047,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian Marchant wasn't born in Newhaven in East Sussex in 1958, but he often claims that he was because of his deep embarrasment about his real place of birth.
But he really did grow up there, and went to school there, and he still sees it as home, even though it quite clearly isn't, given that he lives 250 miles away in Mid-Wales.
He didn't make a living singing in bands in the late 1970's and early 1980's; nor did he become a civil engineer in the late 1980's, as he didn't have any facility for the maths. He was surprised to learn recently that he didn't graduate in the History and Philosophy of Science with a Creative Writing Minor from Lancaster University in 1992. He really did live in a caravan for many years, but he didn't share it with a chicken called Ginger, who was rather an occasional visitor.
He put his career as a novelist on hold when his second novel 'The Battle for Dole Acre',(whose title he can't pronounce),didn't really sell. He didn't know much about railways or pubs when he started writing his acclaimed travel memoirs 'Parallel Lines' and 'The Longest Crawl',(though he does now). He did stay awake for countless nights to write his latest book 'Something of the Night'. He's now not writing a new book (provisional title 'A Hero for High Times') because he's writing this instead.
He does, however, teach Creative Writing at Birmingham City University, support Brighton and Hove Albion and sing in a cheesy cabaret duo called 'Your Dad', even though he's not really your dad, unless he is.
You can read his blog, which he doesn't update enough, via his website, www.ianmarchant.com

Product Description

Review

Marchant's comic view of boozing is a delight. -- Sunday Times

Marvellous... hugely entertaining... veined with self-deprecating humour. -- The Times

From the Author

Q&A with Ian Marchant

Why did you set out on this journey of yours? And tell us a little about your strategy to get from a) St Agnes to b) Unst?
Well, I did the journey from ignorance; from curiosity if you prefer. I just realised that pubs were so familiar that we could hardly see them anymore. Pubs are so familiar, in fact, that everyone is an expert on them. I thought of doing an appendix, called the 100 Best Pubs I’ve Never Been To But People Tell Me I Should Have. I hope that I unearthed some unfamiliar sights; not least the islands of St. Agnes and Unst, the first and last places in Britain. I regard people who go merely from Land’s End to John O’ Groats as lightweights.

Is the notion of pub "culture" a very British idea, do you think?
Very British. English, even, since pubs in Scotland are utterly different, and large parts of Wales were dry until very recently. They are also very male; some of the moral panic in the press about drinking is because women have been seen publicly drunk for the first time since the Gin Fever of the Eighteenth Century; and respectable girls don’t get falling over drunk.

Are you or were you ever tempted to jack it all in and become a landlord?
Incredibly, yes. It’s the worst gig on earth, but I still fancy a go. The pub I’d most like to run is The Baltasound Hotel, the last pub in Britain. I have a mad plan to make it lively, interesting, welcoming for locals and tourists alike; all I need is three hundred grand.

The Pub quiz forms a significant part of your affection for boozers. Explain the appeal to those not familiar with this most dynamic of pastimes.
I used to work in a bookmakers shop. My old boss said to me once that ‘there is no such thing as useless knowledge’. In order to demonstrate how facile this statement was, I asked him which racecourse was both the most southerly and westerly in Britain. He called me a word which hates women, (bookmakers shops are not terribly refined places, I’m afraid.) Fifteen years later, I’m sitting in a pub quiz, and up comes the question; ‘What is the most southerly and westerly racecourse in Britain?’ ‘Newton Abbot’, I say. The quiz was won, and my old gaffer was vindicated; there really is no such thing as useless knowledge. Pub quizzes exist in order to ensure this is true. Pub quiz is a thing of beauty. It should be in the 2012 Olympics.

Do you have a favourite pub from among the (how many was it you visited?)
We visited about 125 pubs in the month we were away,; 100 are mentioned by name in the book. My joint favourites are The Duke of York’s in Iddesleigh, Devon, and The Yorkshire House, in Lancaster.

Did you discover anything along the way that surprised you?
Everyday. That’s why we go traveling, I think. Even when we are traveling to places that have already been discovered, and on even our most everyday journeys there are surprises round every corner.

Is there a sense that pub culture is on the rise (Michelin starred pub restaurants and so on) or on the decline (meathead bouncers outside high street pubs in town centres…) or is that misunderstanding the idea of "pub culture"?
‘Pub Culture’ changes like any culture over time, and a good thing too. Its up to the participants in any culture to make sure that change is welcome and positive. The idea of Orwell’s ‘Moon Under Water’, with its heavy Victorian interior of polished mahogany and mirrors, where homely barmaids pull nut brown pints of foaming ale and serve liver sausage sandwiches has had a grip on the pub mans imagination for sixty years, and perhaps its time is passing. I think we need to make a place at the bar for the pub woman, and pub children. That’s why the book’s subtitle is ‘A Child’s Treasury of Booze.’…

How drunk did you get on the journey?
Well, the idea was to desensationalise drinking; to remind people that moderate drinking is a thing of beauty, and that alcohol, whilst a powerful drug, can be used sensibly and responsibilty….
And, er, we got very very drunk. About one night in three…

You seem to suggest that British literature is irrevocably linked to drinking culture (and vice versa). In what way?
English literature starts in a pub; The Tabard, In Southwark, from where the Canterbury Pilgrims begin their journey. Mind you, English everything probably starts in a pub. I know I did, one Whitsun Bank Holiday Monday, when my dad got my mum tiddly on Babycham…

Will you ever eat pork scratchings again?
With enormous pleasure. Despite eating three kilos in five days. Despite some of my clothes still smelling of them.

What’s next for Mr Marchant?
A pilgrimage, by electric bike. A fool’s errand.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Graeme Wright VINE VOICE on 11 Nov 2006
Format: Paperback
The Humorous Travel Book, a genre fathered by Bill Bryson et al, has grown into something of a monster. Straightforward travel books, it appears, no longer sell like they used to; a dash of humour or a funny twist - pulling a dishwasher around the Hebrides, say - will open up whole new galaxies of readers.

And so I approached The Longest Crawl with trepidation. Would it perform to stereotype with quaint country taverns lining up like suitors at a debutantes' ball to get their name, location and list of amenities in print? Happily, no. Instead it provided me with four hundred or so pages of brilliantly observed detail, painstakingly researched history and geography, a cast of characters for whom the term 'colourful' was invented and a knowledgable and endlessly interesting narrative which held my attention right to the final paragraph. And yes - there was humour, lots of it.

Mr Marchant appears to have approached his trek with the sole intention to inform rather than necessarily impress. Hence we have the no-holds-barred descriptions of a Sunday night in Great Driffield, a heroic pub crawl around Leeds and a search of Glaswegian off licenses for Buckfast Abbey tonic wine ("Buckie") and its partakers. The resulting narratives are as eye opening as they are entertaining.

Great swathes of the Kingdom were bypassed in Marchant's month long journey from the Scillies to the Shetlands (no Blackpool, Newcastle or Southwold) but it is still jaw droppingly impressive that the author drank his way from one tiny island to another without, seemingly, missing any of the detail on the way.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert Machin on 14 July 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Booze may have given us the rolling English road - it's also given us this rollicking good read. Once again Ian Marchant sets off on adventures picaresque around the British Isles; his last book was guided by the railway network, this is driven only by the shortest journey from pub to pub and is consequently a less structured odyssey (but none the worse for that). What's becoming his trademark mix of learned erudition (mostly on alcohol related matters) and the utterly personal makes this another highly compelling, entertaining and - though I sense he'd hate anyone who said it - improving yarn. Should be hung in every pub toilet. The book, that is...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Fraser on 14 Aug 2006
Format: Paperback
What a treat - a month-long pub-crawl from the most southerly to the most northerly pub in the British Isles accompanied by the kind of chap you'd be happy to bump into at the end of any bar. Marchant's book is essentially a kind of love-letter to the joys of the English pub. And a funny one at that, with some truly laugh-out-loud moments. He has a great turn-of-phrase and can segue readily betweem moments of extreme humour and more explanitory passages about the process of brewing, say, without loosing the reader's interest.

A must for anyone who's ever enjoyed a shandy or two in their local.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P. Ayres on 25 Sep 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is simply the most enjoyable ramble I have read for a long time. It made me want to pack up and follow his trail across the country. It is a mine of useless information as well as bringing many memories back to life. the pub quiz chapter made me smile as I could see our own team in his writings. I have yet to finish the book , but I already know that I will simply start again as soon as I do. Well done mr Marchant..... Cheers!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tallpete33 TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Nov 2009
Format: Paperback
This book follows part time musician/writer Ian Marchant and his equally middle aged mate/driver/photographer, Perry, from the Scillies to the Shetlands, a month long winding and intrepid pub crawl from the South to the North. Part historical, part personal and part factual it's an alcohol fuelled jamboree bag of a book that drags in parts, informs in others and makes you smile and feel jealous you weren't there too for the remainder. It took me a while to really get into it to be honest, but as our er...heroes warmed to the task so I found myself reading it more and more.

Speaking as a Londoner, I'm afraid to say it got better the further North it went, particularly the Scottish Island and Highland parts. I really wanted to be on one of the numerous ferries enjoying a plate of Calmac lasagne and chips before finding an even more remote pub and enjoying a "half and half" (whisky and ale). The Southern stages were more about box ticking landmark pubs and my heart sank when they approached London and I just knew they were going to Smithfield's Fox and Anchor and the Lamb in Leadenhall market. Could have shown a bit more imagination in a city of thousands of mad, bad and great pubs chaps. Whilst I'm on my high horse, Wetherspoons aren't responsible for all of the UK's problems and where were the notes about the photos ?

Anyway, this book isn't about jolly japes and drunken antics, more about ex-student slightly hippy beer (oops, ale) lovers discovering the pubs, the drinks and the people of the UK. There's plenty of words like "mash tuns" and "sparging" for the Oz and James amongst you, the whisky distillery passages being far more interesting than the brewery trips for some reason.
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